Author: Gene Luen Yang , Ill. Lark Pien
Title: American Born Chinese
Genre: Comic Books; Graphic Novels
Publication Date: 2006
Number of Pages: 233
Geographical Setting: American suburbs
Time Period: Contemporary
Series: Not Applicable
Plot Summary: American Born Chinese consists of three seemingly unconnected stories that come together in a complex, surprising, and heart-warming way. The first story is based on a Chinese fable about the Monkey King. The Monkey King wants to become an immortal god, but in trying to become something he is not, he defies his inner nature and upsets Tze-Yo-Tzuh (the god who created existence). The second story is about Jin Wang, who after moving to a suburb from San Francisco, just wants to fit in at school. Jin wants to be popular, play basketball, make friends, and date the American girl he has fallen in love with. Instead, he meets Wei-Chen, a Taiwanese boy who only increases the bullying and decreases Jin’s chances for becoming popular. Lastly, Chin-Kee is Danny’s cousin visiting from China, and every time Chin-Kee visits he turns Danny into a high school outcast. Danny has had to change schools several times, and at his current school he is does not want to give up his popularity. American Born Chinese is a layered, magical, and an insightful story about being happy with who you are, what you have, and being true to yourself.
Subject Headings: Graphic novels. Chinese Americans — Fiction. Identity — Fiction. Schools — Fiction. Cartoons and comics. Michael L. Printz Award — 2007.
Appeal: engaging, fast-paced, flawed, insightful, realistic, sympathetic, layered, multiple points of view, magical
3 terms that best describes this book: humorous, character-centered, plot twists,
3 Nonfiction Read-a-likes:
Writing and Illustrating the Graphic Novel, Daniel Cooney
If American Born Chinese inspired you to try your hand at drawing and writing your own graphic novel, then check out Writing and Illustrating the Graphic Novel. This book will teach you how to draw lifelike illustrations, write exciting dialogue, and become a published author.
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Dating for Teens, Susan Rabens
Just like Jin Wang in American Born Chinese, teens agonize over how to ask someone on a date. If you are a teen trying to figure out dating, then check out The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Dating for Teens. This book will talk about how to ask, how to handle rejection, how to discuss it with your parents, and much more. Or, this would be a great book for Mom or Dad to read in order to have a better understanding for how to start a conversation with your teen about dating.
Monkey: Folk Novel of China, Arthur Waley
This acclaimed translation from Arthur Waley, makes this western fable of the Monkey King accessible to English speaking natives. In American Born Chinese, Yang retells the Monkey King fable, in this translation learn and read the origins of this sixteenth century Chinese fable.
3 Fiction Read-a-likes:
Anya’s Ghost, Vera Brosgol
Anya’s Ghost is a magical realist story about Anya who is trying to fit in at high school, but it is a one-hundred-year-old ghost named Emily that helps Anya figure out high school. The flawed characters and the combination of the magical and realistic features to this graphic novels plot, makes this a great read-a-like for American Born Chinese.
The Accidental Genius of Weasel High, Rick Detorie
A realistic fiction novel interspersed with comic strips, this is a great coming-of-age story about a young boy named, Larkin Pace who is obsessed with films and his best friend since third grade, Brooke. Similar to American Born Chinese, Brosgol’s story is realistic, humorous, character-centered, and is about teenagers that have just entered the dating world.
The Absolute True Diary of a Part-time Indian, Sherman Alexie
Junior leaves his Spokane Indian reservation and attends a high school where the only other Native American is the mascot. Similar to American Born Chinese, this is a realistic, engaging, and insightful story about trying to fit into high school.
Name: Alison Kulczak